A New We the People for California, Starting with Commercial Property Tax Reform

#TaxesMakeHealthHappen campaign by Public Health Awakened

We are pushing public health to recognize: who has We the People been about so far, and who can it be about in the future?

Back in April, we coordinated a campaign to show that #TaxesMakeHealthHappen, as part of our Public Health Awakened network, in partnership with the The California Endowment and the Berkeley Media Studies Group. Throughout that campaign, we pushed for a reframe of taxes as an investment in our own collective well-being and in future generations. We came across the deep division of perspectives: passion on both sides for and against taxation as an investment in health.

We need to co-create a new social compact that tells a wholly inclusive story about who “We the People” should really be about.

Earlier this week at the American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting, we were energized to hear john powell speak on the main stage about the power of exclusion. As he said, “if we don’t see people as fully human, we are not going to consider them when we develop policies.”

The public health data are clear: we all do better when we all do better.

In line with this, we believe our tax structure is a critical component of building that inclusive, healthy society. The tax system and our budgets are moral documents. The decisions we make about taxes make concrete what we value — they reflect who we are and who we want to be as a society.

Luckily, in California, we can put our narrative into action.

We are mobilizing the public health voice to ensure the California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act proposition that’s coming on the ballot in 2020 passes with a resounding yes. The proposition would close the commercial property tax loophole created by Proposition 13. It would tax under-valued commercial properties at their actual value, creating a level playing field among businesses and ending the unfair advantage given to big corporations. It does not touch the residential guarantees included in Prop 13.

The Schools & Communities First proposition would restore $11 billion per year to invest in California’s community needs.

Every year, about $4.5 billion of the new funds would go toward K-12 and community college education, giving teachers and students the resources to succeed and helping kids with the greatest educational needs receive crucial services. We know well that education has a huge impact on health.

We can move to a fair and inclusive society with a social compact that supports everyone’s health.

We have the knowledge and resources to achieve this, but right now our collective resources are not shared appropriately. We need to realign the gross imbalance of wealth in our state — and our country — and ensure all our policies and systems support everyone’s opportunity to thrive.

So, what can we do as public health?

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Human Impact Partners

Human Impact Partners

Bringing the power of public health to campaigns and movements for a just society